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Lord Freud praises Bromford’s innovation in linking work and skills to its housing offer

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Bromford shares successes in helping communities into employment.

Following a visit today, Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud praised Midlands-based Bromford for innovating and providing interventions to help customers help themselves.

Lord Freud said:

"Bromford as a social landlord is helping its customers to find employment and reduce their benefit dependency.

"It is good to see how social landlords can use their relationship with tenants to support them on a wide range of issues - from combating digital and financial exclusion to helping to get people ready for the world of work.

"Bromford's important work in the preparation for Universal Credit will also help councils across the country to support their residents as the new benefit is introduced next year."

Nick Cummins, Bromford's executive director said: "We feel the role of housing is under-utilised in enabling people to find a route out of welfare dependency.

"These are challenging times for many of our customers, but at Bromford we feel we are ideally placed to embrace change and use our resources to enable our customers to be the best they can be.

"We look forward to seeing more positive change from the DWP in the next twelve months following today's discussions."

In Lord Freud's visit today he heard about the many ways Bromford is helping to get people back to work.

Meeting Bromford colleagues and customers, he was told about the 'Bromford Deal' and how Bromford has developed its 'Something for Something relationship' with customers by developing new services to help build aspiration through training, volunteering and work.

Bromford showcased its focus on customer access to digital technology to create opportunity.

There was a demonstration of its new social networking 'Connect' site for jobs and skills and an opportunity to meet two Bromford apprentices from Bromford's Opportunities 4 Employment programme. "The Deal has made me a somebody," said Marie Church, one of the apprentices working as a PA.

"Removing barriers is the aim of Connect and it puts a world of opportunity for work and skills literally in the palm of your hand," said James Walsh opportunities manager at Bromford. Watch the Connect video. 

A session then followed on the Work Programme led by Bromford and Employment and Skills Group, a prime contractor that Bromford has just secured two contracts with.

Bromford stressed the vital role that housing associations play in making the Work Programme a success despite a low take-up by other housing providers.

Lord Freud met a Bromford Work Programme customer, Lisa Evans, who talked about her experiences at Sencia in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. Lisa is now employed by Bromford as a job coach assisting people who are in a similar position to find work.   

Bromford explained how as a housing provider it is maximising its "On the Sofa" relationship and support services to engage and assist hard-to-reach customers on the work programme. This includes linking up work clubs and local opportunities to help work programme clients track their own journey and assist providers to improve their 'payment by results sustainment payments.'

There was an opportunity to discuss ideas and observations to improve the work programme and Lord Freud also met work club customers.

Bromford talked to Lord Freud about its take on welfare reforms, the impact on it and its customers and how it is assisting them to understand and cope with changes they face in Universal Credit and Direct Payments; plans for the future and Bromford's aim to increase self-reliance and financial capability.

The partners in the Shropshire Housing Benefit Direct Payments Demonstration Project Shropshire Council, Sanctuary, Wrekin Housing Trust and Bromford presented the regional picture on progress with the project.

Nick Cummins concluded: "We are delighted that we have had the opportunity to talk to Lord Freud today about what we are doing and, following this meeting, will be looking to see how we can improve outcomes moving forward.

"Ultimately, we are providing interventions for the whole family -not just the lead tenant - to enable the contribution to both community and society."